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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Friday, January 31 2014
Friday,  1/31/14  Criticism   
       Good Morning. To cap off C week, our topic for today is Criticism. Someone once told me that the only people who get criticized are those who are doing something. I did not back then, nor do I today, ascribe to that theory. I don’t believe people need excuses in order to criticize. In fact, I believe many will find a reason to do it for the mere fact that they either don’t like us or else have something against us. According to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary, to criticize means, in part, “to express disapproval of someone or something, or to talk about their problems or faults.”
       When it concerns criticism, I’m pretty sure we’ve all been on the receiving end, some more frequently than others. On the other hand, folks who don’t do it are about as hard to find as teeth on a chicken because to criticize is as easy as drinking water to most of us. I suppose how we handle it is as equally important to the way we employ it, if at all. I heard of a pastor who was told by one of his members after his sermon: “Pastor, you made a big mistake in grammar in your message today.” He quickly and angrily replied: “And what else did you get out of it?” Yesterday, our topic was convictions. In this case I’m convinced both member and pastor made a mistake. Another pastor I know handled this same matter very differently. When one of his members pointed out several faults in his sermon, he replied: “If what you say is true, would you mind praying for me?” I pray I’ll be as gracious the next time that happens to me.
       James 3:2 says: We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. This truth has both reality and hope. The reality is that we all stumble in many ways, and the hope is that with God’s help, our words don’t have to offend. The truth is that, in Christ, we can have hope in any situation. And if criticism has been a particularly thorny issue to us, we can all believe that the Lord will help us with it from this day forward.
Memory verse for the week: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.(Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
Posted by: Pastor Joe AT 09:29 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 30 2014
Thursday    1/30/14  Convictions
       This is the topic we discussed in our monthly men’s bible class last night. A conviction, according to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary, is a strong belief or opinion, the feeling of being sure that what you say and believe is true. We’re not referring, of course, to being convicted of a crime. Our convictions play a big part in how we live our lives, and I think we all have them. If we pay close attention, we can see them being played out all around us on a daily basis. An example is the recent news item about a Little League coach in California that is suing one of his players and his parents. He suffered an Achilles tendon injury because the boy, now 14, threw down his helmet in celebration which in turn bounced and hit him in the leg. The coach contends he is suing the boy and his parents because they never once apologized for the incident. Many of us could say, “I would never bring a lawsuit against any of my players, much less a boy.” Now, that is a personal conviction. On the other hand, the boy’s parents have refused to offer an apology because they claim their son did nothing wrong. Though they are totally opposing views, neither side has budged from their position. Remember the dictionary definition?
       Not all convictions are a good thing. I venture to say that the extremists who brought down the World Center Towers were driven by theirs. Was that a good thing? Would God approve such a thing? As the children of God, our convictions should all be based on what we believe about Him and our knowledge of His will. If we believe He wants us to be honest, caring, generous, patient, humble, and hard-working, among other things, it will show up in our lives. Paul, in addressing the issue concerning the different convictions regarding what people ate and drank, or the abstaining of them, wrote: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31) Now that would be a great conviction to adopt, that from now on we will be intent on ensuring that no matter what we do, we will remember to do it in such a way so that God would get all the honor and the glory. I am convinced there are no convictions better than that one.
Memory verse for the week: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.(Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
Posted by: Pastor Joe AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 29 2014
Wednesday, 1/29/14  Confession   
       Not all clichés are biblically supported but this one is: “Confession brings healing.” David, speaking on the blessedness of having our sins forgiven in Psalm 32, also added: When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. (Ps. 32:3) Quite obviously, he meant that his soul did not find peace or comfort, nor could he rejoice in God’s forgiveness until he confessed his sins. The truth is that confession’s greatest benefit is the salvation of our souls. That’s where it all begins. In order to be saved and insure our place in eternal glory, we must first believe in Jesus with all our heart and then confess Him with our mouth. (See Romans 10:9)
       Some people may say, “That’s just too easy; I can’t believe that.” But why should that be so hard to believe? I’m sure you know folks who will forgive their most bitter enemy just upon hearing a simple “I’m sorry.” Well, God’s forgiveness is greater than that. Besides, it was not I or any other mortal man who made that declaration, it was God. If we can’t believe Romans 10:9 or John 3:16, believing the rest of the Bible will do us no good whatsoever. The bottom line is: we either believe all the Bible or none of it.
       Once we have settled the salvation issue and are happily secure in Christ, we have an additional benefit. If, or rather when, we have failed and sinned against Him, we can be forgiven, cleansed, and restored the instant we confess it to Him. In his first letter to the church, the Apostle John wrote: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) Would not your best friend forgive you in a heartbeat? Well, we have no greater friend than Jesus. In fact, if you belong to Him, there is nothing you can do that will keep Him from loving you. Whatever it is that may be troubling your heart and mind, let it go. Confess it to your best friend, then to your real best Friend. This is true also: confession is good for the soul.     
Memory verse for the week: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.(Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
Posted by: Pastor Joe AT 08:27 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 28 2014
Tuesday, 1/28/14   
       I was not sure whether to title today’s blog Cussing or Cursing. I believe the Merriam-Webster accepts both. I certainly couldn’t title it Profanity because this is C Week. No matter what we call it, they all involve the words that come out of our mouth. In Matthew 12:36, Jesus said that one day we’ll all have to give an account of every idle word we’ve spoken. Don’t let that scare you because, in Christ, your place in Heaven is secure. However, the more careless we’ve been with our words in our lifetime, the greater our embarrassment will be on that day.
       And speaking of C week, I was reminded last night that I was guilty of doing something one of our recent memory verses told us not to. By announcing that I was going to write topics all week that start with the letter C, I carelessly implied that I know I’ll be around on Friday. None of us knows that. Hopefully, next time I’ll be careful to add “God willing.”
       I was reading James, Chapter 3 yesterday where we are told about the difficulty of controlling the tongue. One notable verse in it says: Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:10 KJV) Obviously, James was addressing other believers. I hope I don’t sound too sanctimonious, but I cringe every time I am subjected to the excessive use of four letter words. I choose to believe that most Christians do too. It bothers me even more when the ones using foul language are professing Christians. These are not necessarily bad people and neither are they worse than the rest of us, but when we use this type of language, it is very dishonoring to God.
       I closed my personal account with Facebook a couple of years ago primarily for that reason. To me, it had become mostly a gossip page and a platform for people to express themselves with four letter words and coarse references. To make it worse, some of them were church and family members. I just could not believe that they were not aware that other church or family members were reading every word they were writing. How could they not sense that their words were embarrassing and bringing disrespect to all they are related to? This includes their parents, grandparents, and church, but even more important, Christ. Lets refrain from using bad language. If we belong to Jesus, we’re better than that.
Memory verse for the week: Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.(Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
Posted by: Pastor Joe AT 09:26 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, January 27 2014
Monday,  1/27/14   - [Complaining]
       Good morning. I hope this is the start of a great week for you. I also hope you’ll all join me as we take a five day trip on the C Train. How’s that for a corny, exaggerated start? Actually, the reason for the C Train reference is that this week all our topics will begin with the letter C. Today’s topic is about complaining. I bet every one of you knows somebody whose life is defined by continual complaining. You may even live with somebody who fits the description. If they do, don’t let them see today’s article, and if they’re standing close by, exit immediately. Mark Twain was quoted as saying: "Don’t complain and talk about your problems. 80 percent of the people don’t care; the other 20 percent will think you deserve them." All kidding aside, complaining is a serious matter and God’s Word has a lot to say about it.
       When God’s people left Egypt and started their journey to Canaan, their promised land, what should have been an 11 day trip lasted 40 years due to their continual grumbling and complaining. If nothing else, that fact alone is a clear indication that complaining will greatly impede people’s progress. And if God was displeased with His people for doing it back then, why would He feel differently with us if we do it today? Addressing that incident, Paul wrote:And do not grumble, as some of them did--and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us.        (I Corinthians 10:10-11)
       Complaining is the product of an attitude, that is, a mindset or way of thinking. In this case, it is the belief that God, the world, or someone owes us something. They don’t! I often suggest to our church members that they live their lives as if nobody owes them anything. This way when they don’t get anything, it won’t matter, and when they do they’ll be thrilled. If the Lord has convicted your heart because you feel you have complained more than you should, ask Him to help you. He will. And if you now realized that you just complain too much, period, why don’t you invite Christ into your heart today. Ask Him to be the Lord of your life and He will give you a new heart. Once He does, I bet complaining will slowly fade away from your life.
Memory verse for the week: 
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for He hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.(Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
Posted by: Pastor Joe AT 08:37 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, January 24 2014

Friday, 1/24/14  -  [The God Of The Second Chance]

       Following in my bible reading two days ago in Genesis 44, I read once again the account of a seemingly cruel and deceptive deed masterminded by Joseph, who was governor of Egypt at the time. His plan succeeded and made it appear that his brother, Benjamin, had stolen his choice silver cup. Keep in mind that his brothers did not yet know that this was Joseph, the brother they had sold as a slave many years before. Better still, when you have a chance, see the complete story in Genesis Chapter 42-45. In the past, I had not concerned myself with Joseph’s motive in this act. This time, however, I was struck with the idea that his actions here were not consistent with his character. Many who read this story may be inclined to think that this was, in fact, a cruel and vindictive ploy on Joseph’s part, and leave it at that. I did not think that, but I was intrigued enough to dig more deeply into this story to see if I could identify his motive. Reading the account more carefully and seeing what some well known Bible Commentators said about it, I agreed with their conclusion by consensus.

       Joseph, with God’s leading, was testing his brothers to see if they had learned from their previous sins and errors, and were different now. That is what God does too. That is why David wrote: Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end ; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. (Ps. 7:9 KJV) The story later shows quite clearly that these men had indeed learned from their mistakes and were not like before.

       I’m glad that the Lord tests us all from time to time. He does it for our benefit. He equips us with any needed courage, strength, or grace, then gives us many opportunities to redeem ourselves. After all, He is the God of the Second Chance. If you have faltered a bit or if you have failed Him and others, take courage because your chance to make a strong comeback may be right around the corner. And if you ask God to help you, He will.

Memory verse for the week: 
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:7 KJV)

Posted by: Pastor Joe AT 11:21 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 23 2014

Thursday, 1/23/14 -  [A Reason For Our Troubles]

       I shared in our bible class last night, an incident I had yesterday that typifies our human tendencies, those which in turn get us into trouble time and time again. I was making a visit in an area on the outskirts of town where I had not been before. As I was coming back home, I had not even traveled a mile when I was pulled over by a police car. I had no idea why since I was moving at about 30 MPH and it was hardly1 PM. I even mentioned that to the policeman, who in turn advised me that in that residential area the speed limit is 20 MPH always. He was polite but proceeded to write my ticket anyway.

        I don’t even remember the last time I got a speeding ticket; for sure it was in the previous century. And I did not say a word to the officer but calmly took the ticket and drove away. However, for several hours after the incident, I just could not get it out of my mind. To be honest, I was extremely mad and these thoughts raced through my mind: “Speed trap! Cop makes his quota. Never been in a residential area with a permanent 20 MPH limit. Wait till I stand before their judge, I’ll tell him.” In time, I realized I really had no one to blame but myself. Sure I saw the 2O MPH signs but I assumed they were the school zone type and not yet in force. Whatever happened to paying close attention to all traffic signs? Are we not all like thatsometimes? We get into trouble ourselves but we look around to see if we can find someone or something else to blame. We are like those David wrote about in Psalm 15:7 who fall into the hole they themselves dug up.

       Today, more than ever, it seems like everyone is looking for reasons why they have suffered or not succeeded in life. High profile individuals are suddenly announcing to the world that they were abused as children or talk about bad and unlucky breaks, or the unfairness and injustices of life in general. As God’s children, we need to make a sincere effort not to fall into this dangerous way of thinking. We need to start being accountable and honest with ourselves, and to “man up”, as athletes are prone to say. That is what God wants too. That is why David, in his psalm of repentance wrote: Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts (Ps. 51:6) Let the world continue to look for excuses, but with God’s help we will be different.

Memory verse for the week: 
Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:7 KJV)

Posted by: Pastor Joe AT 11:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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